12/12/2012 4:59PM

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission moves to reduce Lasix mishaps


The veterinary division of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has implemented several new procedures in the hopes of avoiding more mistakes with a program requiring that state employees administer the anti-bleeding medication furosemide to horses on race days, commission officials said Wednesday.

The new procedures include a handful of moves designed to improve communication among officials delivering the shots and the program’s administrators, including the standardization of procedures to ensure that the right horses are located and treated. In addition, officials involved in the program will be confronted with a series of “stops” when determining whether to administer furosemide to a horse, according to the commission’s deputy executive director, Marc Guilfoil, as a way to reinforce caution among the three veterinarians that are currently administering the shots.

Since the state racing commission took over the responsibility for delivering raceday shots, veterinarians involved in the program have committed four errors. In two cases, the same horse received two furosemide shots, requiring the horses to be scratched. In another case, a horse who was not supposed to receive furosemide did. In another, a horse who was supposed to receive the drug did not.

Furosemide, which also is known as Lasix or Salix, is legal to administer in every racing jurisdiction in the United States as a way to treat bleeding in the lungs. Kentucky’s regulations require the drug to be administered four hours before a race, give or take 15 minutes.

The commission formed a committee to study the procedures after the four errors were committed in the first five weeks of the program.

Alan Leavitt, who represents the Kentucky Standardbred industry on the commission, asked after the committee gave its presentation why Thoroughbred trainers are not required to bring their horses to a specific location on the racetrack to receive the administrations, rather than being visited by state vets in their stalls. He said Standardbred tracks that restrict furosemide administration routinely require trainers to be responsible for delivering the horse to state vets at the right time.

“It’s works perfectly,” he said. “I’m just curious why it’s not being done that way.”

Said John Ward, the executive director of the commission, “The Thoroughbred method . . . is a lot more accommodating to the Thoroughbred trainers and owners. This is a trade-off we have to accept. It’s the extra mile that we are trying to go to accommodate the owners and trainers.”